Entry into service

K1's first public service train - 19th October 2007
K1's first public service train - 19th October 2007
Photo: Cliff Garnett

K1 made its long-awaited entry into ordinary WHR revenue-earning service on Friday October 19th 2007, working all the day's services without problems. The train comprised the Railway's E Set that consisted of six carriages plus a bicycle wagon, this set being a little heavier than the other regular set, the F Set, with which it had run previous tests. Needless to say all went well. However, over the first few days the axleboxes still gave the occasional cause for concern.

Following one such occasion and attention to a hot axlebox, K1 had an outing on the afternoon train on November 1st 2007, piloting 143 from Dinas to Rhyd Ddu and back. The loco ran without problems and reportedly did a lot of the work.

Axlebox modifications

K1 Group Chairman Andy Rutter comments on the axleboxes, and other matters being attended to on the loco at this point:

K1 and K2 were designed with top lubrication gravity fed axle boxes, and the oil flowed down around the journals to the pad that spread the oil evenly at the bottom of the journals; the pad was kept in place by a sprung former and a "keep". As far as we are aware this worked OK in Tasmania, although the small oil reservoirs above each axle would have required regular topping-up and can suffer from water ingress if the brass lids are not secure (or if water leaks down from the tanks as happened at Super Power 2006). A decision was made to convert to underfeed lubrication using reservoirs feeding oil through flexible pipes into the bottom of the journals with the pads acting as wicks drawing the oil in capillary action. The top reservoir feeds were sealed and they remain out of use. There are a number of variables on how good or bad this system is at maintaining oil around the journal, and all are being considered. The flexible pipes could be too small in diameter, not allowing free flow of oil quickly enough from the reservoir to the keep. The pads may be too thick and compressed, losing their capillary action. The oil may not be of the correct viscosity. When the oil is topped-up the night before service the loco will run 100 miles or more without problems, so, oiling just before daily service seems to not allow enough time for the oil to permeate the pads. Axle no 3 is nearest the ashpan and firebox bottom and may suffer from more heat radiation, possibly drying-up more rapidly, although this seems unlikely. A hot box seems to happen quite randomly. There was a shim in one axle box that was dislocated and wound slivers of metal around the axle adjacent to the journal; this has been dealt with.

Apart from this annoying problem a lot has been achieved improving performance - traction is excellent, and steam sanding is a boon. Steaming is better with coal as the vacuum produced in the smokebox is better, and the compounding is improved, giving better economy with the adjustment of the valve timing, though there is still work to do on this. Coal consumption seems very acceptable with possibly a daily saving of £150 - £200 over the equivalent in oil costs. Obviously K1's water tanks are small, but there doesn't seem to be an issue of lack of water as long as the tanks are topped up regularly; the railway has plenty of water tanks. By creating a vent in the water discharge pipe from the injectors they have been made far less temperamental, though there is still work to do on the driver's side injector, with the cones, etc.

K1 arriving at Rhyd Ddu - 27th November 2007
K1 arriving at Rhyd Ddu - 27th November 2007
Photo: Ben Fisher

K1's next outing at that time was to take a special train to Waunfawr on November 4th 2007, in connection with the annual roving "Narrow Gauge Get-Together" event which that year was being hosted by the FR.

K1 then ran two further test trains to Rhyd Ddu on Friday November 9th 2007, with the bearings behaving themselves. The loco was in charge of service trains two days later as seen in the photo on the right.

A further working party on November 17th had the volunteers taking the opportunity to tidy up some of the remaining jobs. They were also given the reward, at long last, of each being given a footplate ride to enjoy the locomotive in service.

Another feature of this working party was the trial fitting of a reproduction front lamp for K1 - see later section. This being one of the pair being built by Stuart Fletcher, the construction of which is covered in much more detail in a later section on this page. A trial wire up with a battery and lamp was conducted and it also gave the team an opportunity to see how to mount the lamp and to start work on the mounting of the turbo generator that will power it when in service.

Daily service trains

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Caernarfon Castle piloting on the first
morning train of 24th November 2007.
Photo: A Ashworth
K1 on the school party special train
on 21st November 2007.
Photo: Roger Dimmick

In the meantime, as from the train services of the weekend of 24th and 25th November all service trains were required to carry a lamp, and K1was no exception, even if the modern lamp did look a little incongruous! K1 is seen with one such lamp at Waunfawr on the 24th November, along with Caernarfon Castle that was taken on the first morning trip up the line as insurance against leaf fall problems.

The only service trains left for the 2007 season were the annual Santa trains. K1 provided the motive power for all those in December as well as a special train for a school party and the New Year's Day trains on the 1st January 2008.

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K1 on the service train passing NGG16s №138,
centre, and №143, right, on the 10th February 2008.
Photo: Laurence Armstrong

After this K1's next rostered work was for the February 2008 half-term service. With a slight reverse of fortune the shot on the right was taken by volunteers working on NGG16's №s 138 and 143 at Dinas, while K1 worked the service train on February 10th 2008.

Working parties

With K1 now in regular service the working party on the 23rd-24th February was the last of those concentrating on the 'restoration' aspect of the loco. This included further work on the mounting for the lamps, that by this time were complete, and on the mounting of the generator.

The day to day running maintenance of K1 was now being looked after by the full time shed staff. This, however, did not preclude the K1 Group volunteers from giving assistance and working on improvements when they attended at Dinas.

One job they did complete during the year as an improvement to K1's operation had been the fitting of a displacement lubricator on the regulator housing. Without it the regulator was far too stiff, and it was an early modification on the K class in service on the NEDT in Tasmania. So almost 100 years later, the WHR has made the same modification.

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K1 and its big 11 coach train.
Photo: Ben Fisher

Showing its capabilities

Early in May 2008 the loco gave a further demonstration of its capabilities on a train extended to cope with passenger demand. This was extended to nine carriages plus a bicycle wagon; the train arrived at Rhyd Ddu five minutes early, after leaving Waunfawr on time.

The 1355 train from Caernarfon on May 17th 2008 was strengthened even more to eleven carriages (the maximum length Caernarfon Station can take, and then only if the shorter carriages 23 and 24 are included) for a large excursion party. K1 proved equal to the longest and heaviest train it has hauled in Wales, and perhaps in its entire life; there was a little slipping from the rear power unit on some departures and some of the longer climbs were taken quite slowly, but the loco's ability to cope was never in doubt; although some time was lost between Caernarfon and Waunfawr, the train ran from Waunfawr to Rhyd Ddu in the usual booked time, and on the return reached the crossing with №143's train at Waunfawr some minutes before the NGG16 arrived from Caernarfon.

Institution of Mechanical Engineers Award

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The Institution of Mechanical Engineers Award K1 at Waunfawr with the award.Paul Lewin and
Professor Isobel Pollock. Photo Andy Rutter

June 2008 it was announced that the Institution of Mechanical Engineers had awarded an Engineering Heritage Award to Garratt locomotive K1 in recognition of its historical engineering significance. This obviously delighted the K1 Group and WHRS who duly thanked the IMechE for this recognition. The plaque was to be similar to that shown on the right, with a date and a citation that would say: "The Beyer Peacock K1 Locomotive. Built in 1909 to H W Garratt's patent, the first of over 1000 Garratt type articulated locomotives exported from Manchester to all corners of the world. They gave reliable service in some of the most remote places on Earth"

The actual presentation took place in September 2008 and was presented by Professor Isobel Pollock of the IMechE during a visit to the line. The photo far right shows K1 at Waunfawr with the award with Paul Lewin F&WHR General Manager, left, and Professor Isobel Pollock, right.

K1 continued being the motive power for the service trains for the remainder of the season and proved a reliable locomotive whist doing so with the K1 Group working closely with the WHR locomotive staff to maintain the engine in good condition. As the season came to a close however, the K1 Group started to look towards the following year that will be K1 centenary year and the work required to make that a success. With that in mind the group launched an appeal to raise funds over the next few years from supporters old and new, both for that and to keep K1 steaming for the next 100 years. For example once the current project to equip headlamps and lighting generator is completed there will be a need for things like replacement water tanks as these are the originals, as is the coal bunker, as they would soon be reaching the end of their useful life. in the not too distant future. Also there was a need to plan for the eventual 10-year boiler overhaul.

Winter maintenance 2008/9

Over the weekend of November 15-16th 2008 a working party of 10 or 11 volunteers from the K1 Group were able to tackle a list of maintenance items that had accumulated after K1's very successful season.

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The ash pan removed ready to raise the fire bars
Photo: Andy Rutter

The fire bars were to be raised in light of operating problems with accumulation of ash in the ash pan; so this was removed from the bottom of the firebox. The rocking grate is likely to be abandoned as well. The receiver (or intermediate pressure) pipe was also removed as it required attention to damaged cladding, and on initial inspection revealed considerable wastage of the steel pipe. Later closer inspection, however, showed it not to be as bad as first thought as so just the hose clips that hold the cladding in place were replaced in stainless steel. The injector drains are not satisfactory so investigations into size and shape of pipework and location of drainage to below the cab floor is being considered. The cab floor itself was usually very wet owing to drainage issues so "marine scuppers" were procured to drain the wooden floor through the steel footplate beneath. There was an issue with the front brakes, so the front tank was made ready to lift to allow for access. The front buffer plate was also removed for inspection of the vacuum cylinder. The rear tank coal rails are to be modified for space to allow the rear lamp to be fitted. This will be protected by a box section and lid that allows access but protects during coaling and the wooden mock-up was used to check the location, etc. Also an improvement to climbing into the coal bunker was worked out and steps, grab rails and a wider chequer plate for the fireman's side footplate on the tank were decided upon. The chimney was removed for a new funnel section which was about to be rolled. The existing cast bottom was being repaired as it had cracked, and the top would have its customary beading refitted. One of the expansion links was taken down to assess wear in the bearings, which is also a problem on the other three, although only the front right was reground and fitted with new bushes. A change to grease instead of oil lubrication was envisaged. Also the reversing "trigger & link" mechanism had worn, and this was attended to by the shed staff whilst the group amended the lubrication to it as one of this pair lies under the coal bunker. With it being quite a long list other working parties took place to complete all the jobs that were planned.

Whilst working parties continued with improvements and maintenance being carried out, the loco only really saw that one full year of service as a 'front line' loco on the service trains as the following year the NGG16s were back in action. However, K1 continued being used on numerous special trains, galas etc. It also had a very busy year in 2009 with it being it's centenary year.


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The mock-up for the replica lamps for K1
Photo: Andy Rutter

One feature of K1 whilst in service in Tasmania was the rather splendid headlamps it carried. These can be seen in the picture on the 'K1 in Tasmania' page.

The K1 Group announcement of September 20th 2006 sets the scene for this part of the story:

The K1 group are delighted to announce that they are to receive a Transport Trust grant of £500 towards the cost of replicating the original Acetylene Gas Headlights for K1. The K1 Group thank the Transport Trust for this grant, which will help finish the locomotive with its distinctive headlamps. The lighting circuit within the headlamp casings will be new-fangled electricity, derived from a steam turbo generator soon to be restored. Also, The Ffestiniog Railway Company have already agreed to fund the cost of the final livery of K1 when ready.

A full size mock-up of one of the lamps is shown right.

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The replica lamps under construction
on the 8th October 2007
Photo: Andy Rutter

The replica acetylene headlights were being built by Stuart Fletcher in his workshop in Worcestershire and in October 2007 work was advancing well. Stuart Fletcher is seen (left) working on the reproduction lamp casings in his workshop on that date. They primarily comprise brass sheet and steel mountings. The intention at that time was for the lamps to be powered by the steam powered turbo generator that the team have for K1. However they will be fitted with batteries and 24V spot lamps; the batteries allow for a continuous electricity supply if the turbo generator is not generating.

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The part complete lamp positioned on K1's front
tank on the 17th November 2007
Photo: Andy Rutter

An interesting task during the working party on the 15th November 2007, and one that delighted all that saw it, was to mount an almost complete reproduction acetylene headlamp on K1's front tank. It was wired up with battery and lamp, and although it still required the front door assembly with lens, it looked most impressive. The group are delighted with craftsman Stuart Fletcher's work on these lamps. The second lamp was left in his workshop although at a similar stage of construction. It proved possible to ascertain ways and means to mount the lamps and support them from beneath, although with the amount of coal carried in the rear tank/bunker, thoughts were directed towards how that lamp can be protected from the coal.

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The lamps progressing in Stuart Fletcher's workshop
7th December 2007. Photo: Andy Rutter.

The replica lamps are seen in Stuart Fletcher's workshop on December 7th 2007, almost complete but still needing the lenses and bezels to be made

The working party on January 26-7th 2008 saw K1 being fitted with the first of the headlamps and mounting brackets, after which the lamps were returned to Worcestershire for finishing assembly of the lenses, hence the blank front door assembly in the photos. The front tank was fitted with "U" brackets reproducing the originals; the rear tank would need modifications to the coal rails to fit the other lamp. The lamps will not be left in unfinished brass, but will be finished in black in the original style. The rear reverser lubricator below the coal bunker was fitted up to new pipelines, and the inspection plates and cover were fixed with screws to allow for better access. The bunker had to be emptied of coal to achieve all of this in a confined space.

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One of the lamps with recently attached bezel,
6th February 2008. Photo: Andy Rutter

One of the lamps is seen right in Stuart Fletcher's workshop on February 6th 2008, complete with bezel, lens assembly and reproduction "PHOS PAT" plate on the carbide door. It also gives ai indication of the impressive size of these lamps. The next tasks would be for preparation for service, including wiring and painting.

With K1 in regular service, the working party on February 23-4th 2008 was expected to be the last for the foreseeable future, and the opportunity was taken to progress the installation of the headlamps and associated equipment. The rear tank lamp U-brackets were fixed in place and the alterations to the coal bunker rails were decided upon, although not yet tackled that weekend. The lamps were now complete with lenses and polished reflectors and one was tried out on K1 with batteries. Frank Colin had restored the Stone's generator to service; this was assembled with the steam turbine, mounted on the cradle, and trial fitted to the boiler frame to assess where the steam connections will be located. It fits quite unobtrusively below the boiler and the team were able to jack up the whole cradle with turbo quite readily into position. It would be fitted permanently once all the wiring could be completed and the steam supply and exhaust piped. The lamps would be finished in black, wired permanently with batteries, and cable connections to the locomotive would be designed. The wiring circuit on K1 will be in conduit with flexible connections between the boiler frame and engine units. The cab will have a switch to charge the batteries when the turbo-generator is running, a switch for each lamp, (whether travelling forward or bunker first), and probably an LED cab and gauge illumination set of lamps that can be run from the 24V supply.

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The front lamp trial fitted in place (left) and the mounted generator (right), February 2008
Photos: Andy Rutter

The completed front lamp was fitted to the loco and brought into use on April 5th 2008. A decision remained to be made on how to provide adequate protection for the rear lamp from likely damage whilst coaling the loco. In the end that had to wait until the end of K1's first season of operation and the working party of 15th & 16th November 2008. A scheme devised whereby, along with the raising in height of the coal rails, a modified space was arranged to allow the rear lamp to be fitted. This will be protected by a box section and lid that allows access but protects during coaling. The wooden mock-up was used to check the location, etc for the arrangement.


After painting and final finishing the completed front lamp was fitted to the loco and brought into use on April 5th 2008 although a decision remained to be made on how to provide adequate protection for the rear one.

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K1 resplendent with its new front lamp at Rhyd Ddu on the 6th October 2008
Photo: Ben Fisher